Dinosaur Isle - Discover Experience Encounter
Wild on Wight weekend - 2004

Past Events

Included below is a very small selection of the events that happen at Dinosaur Isle each year. We have a very busy calendar, especially with schools, during which we like to put on a number of larger events, including exhibitions and longer activity-driven weeks. We thought you might like to know about some of the things we have done in recent years.

2012 - Blast from the Past
- Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th November

Once again we provided a weekend of activities where the public could come along for free and see fossils and other antiquities from the Isle of Wight and southern England. It was good to see so many of our past exhibitors return, along with some new ones. Children's activities and fossil walks were provided, and numerous children went away with dinosaur face-paint.

Making a clay dinosaur. Joy Verrinder from the Island Heritage Service is pictured here adding to our model 'Dinosaur Island'. Children (and adults) get the opportunity to make their own ancient creature to add to the map (here hidden by models). Look carefully and you may also find the odd bat, castle, church, horse and even a car ferry.

2011 - Blast from the Past
- Saturday 12th November

Blast from the PastSaturday the twelfth has been the busiest day of November so far. ‘Blast from the Past’, our local Fossil Day, was so popular that we welcomed 930 visitors to see displays of local palaeontology, archaeology and natural history. Presented by local collectors, societies, Portsmouth University, the Natural History Museum, Island Heritage Service and other luminaries the public were given the opportunity to ask enquiring questions and celebrate some of the rich heritage that goes to make our Island and surrounding area so culturally fascinating. Exhibits ranged from ammonites to dinosaur bones, roman coins and military badges found by metal-detecting, and we even had a real live roman soldier in the building.

Children’s activities were provided as well, including face-painting, model making and sorting thousands of microfossils.

We thank all those who came together to make such a great day and look forward to the possibility of running an extended version next year. Pictured below are a selection of photographs from the day.

Education Room activitiesOur Education Room was used for a number of activities including plaster casting replica fossils. here we see Paula New and Val Munt with a student from the Natural History Museum, holding a mould for an ammonite.

University of PortsmouthStudents from the University of Portsmouth also brought over a selection of fossils and discussed their research with our visitors.

Natural History MuseumStudents and staff from the Natural History Museum were on the Island for field-work and brought along some of the fossils they had found.

Pictures by Martin New.

- Saturday 16th October

"Blast from the PastFossils, prehistoric finds and other ancient artefacts collected from the Isle of Wight, Solent area and beyond.

A day of exhibits and activities for all the family.

From flint axe heads to dinosaur bones, to the smallest of fossil insects.

FREE ENTRY TO THE MUSEUM ON THE DAY. Normal car-parking charges apply."

Thus was advertized our first real fossil day nine years after we first opened in our new building.

The museum has been attending a similar event in Lyme Regis for some years now and thought it was about time to have a go at organizing something similar on the Island. 

Limiting ourselves to just one day at first we invited numerous collectors and other organizations along to show their finds to the public. Palaeontologists, archaeologists, natural historians and collectors from Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight all came along on the day to show the public examples of their fossil collections. The Natural History Museum, Gosport SEARCH and Portsmouth University were also represented in our main galleries. Activities were run by museum staff, members of the Isle of Wight Heritage Service; and some children even managed to leave without having a Face Painting.

The activities and displays were aimed at all ages and abilities. We even managed to run a fossil walk on the day. The event was well attended, and we received a number of positive comments from exhibitors about the public interest shown in their collections.

Brown's Cafe was open for hot and cold food next door to the museum.

2010 - Building a Dinosaur

During 2010 we began reconstructing part of a skeleton from a truly massive Iguanodon that had been generously donated to the museum by local collector Nick Chase.

The skeleton was found by Nick many years ago, entombed in hard blocks of rock. He collected these blocks over many weeks and then set about the task of removing the first of the bones from its rocky matrix.

A number of bones are still encased in this grey rock, and work has taken place over the 2009 / 2010 winter months to expose them.  During this work it has become apparent that the bones of the spine are still in their original places, including having gaps between the vertebrae where the intervertebral discs would originally have been.

The superb preservation of the articulated bones suggests that the animal was overcome, and swiftly buried, by muddy flood water.

Preparing the display started early in 2010. The work of mounting the real bones, and fabricating replicas for the missing bits took place out in the museum, where visitors were able to see the work and speak to the staff and volunteers. This took place throughout the year, but focused on the school summer holidays in which to do the bulk of the restoration.

The first bones are taken out into the museum.In this picture we see the curator Steve Hutt, and Gary Blackwell, taking out the first of the bones and setting up the tables at the end of July 2010.

For further details please contact -

 Steve Hutt, Dinosaur Isle, on (01983) 404344   stephen.hutt@iow.gov.uk

2009 - The art of John Sibbick.

John Sibbick has been an independent illustrator for nearly 30 years, covering subjects as diverse as world mythology, fantasy and natural history. Following an interest that began as a boy visiting London's Natural History Museum, in 1985 he worked on his first dinosaur book. Today much of his time is devoted to reconstructing fossil creatures and prehistoric environments.

Diplodocus, Copyright John Sibbick

John's paintings have graced a number of major museums, including the Natural History Museum in London, the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh and the Gamegori Museum, Japan.  A collection of his dinosaur art went on display this summer at Dinosaur Isle.

The exhibition opened Monday 20th July and ran until the end of the year.

A promotional leaflet for the 2009 John Sibbick exhibition is now available for download by clicking on the pdf symbol. (File size 2.17 Mb).Click here for an Exhibition leaflet.

Click here for John Sibbick's website.

For further details please contact -

 Steve Hutt, Dinosaur Isle, on (01983) 404344   stephen.hutt@iow.gov.uk

2008 - Hypsilophodon - our most famous dinosaur?

For 2008's summer exhibition we introduced the story of Hypsilophodon foxii, a small, agile plant-eating dinosaur that was first found on the Isle of Wight over 150 years ago. The incredible detail recorded in the fossils that have been found so far tell us something of the manner in which some of them may have died and been preserved. The story of its identification and subsequent re-interpretation mirrors the way in which the people of Victorian England were so interested in their natural surroundings - a time of exciting discovery in many of the natural and historical sciences.

A fragile collection of Hypsilophodon skull fragments was mounted onto a clay frame by Gary Blackwell. This specimen would normally only have been seen flat in a tray so this was an attempt to show the 3D structure of the skull.  The completed object has been placed on a slowly rotating electric turntable to show the skull as it hasn't been seen before.

The aim is to make this exhibition part of the longer term display of real objects; found by local people displayed in their local museum.

For further details please contact -

 Steve Hutt, Dinosaur Isle, on (01983) 404344   stephen.hutt@iow.gov.uk

2007 - Planet of the Apes.

Image of Boxgrove man, courtesy of , and copyright, John Sibbick

Let's make no bones about it - humans are apes. The 2007 exhibition followed the story of human evolution from the early mouse-size Adapis 55 million years ago. Adapis was a small tree-climbing insect-eating mammal. The display included replica skulls and fleshed heads of the 6 million year old Sahelanthropus from the deserts of Chad, Africa - Australopithecus and the more modern Homo erectus and H. neanderthalensis. For comparison we displayed the replica heads of Gigantopithecus blacki, a 10 foot tall ape from 400,000 years ago and Piltdown Man, the infamous Edwardian hoax.

The picture of Boxgrove man is courtesy of, and ©, John Sibbick.

Alongside the displays of skulls were examples of flint tools.

For further details please contact -

 Steve Hutt, Dinosaur Isle, on (01983) 404344   stephen.hutt@iow.gov.uk

2006 - Out of Africa - Dinosaurs of a lost world.

Our new Island spinosaur?The 2006 exhibition looked at some of the large dinosaurs found in north Africa, one of which is related to a large Isle of Wight fish-eating dinosaur. There were displays, models, interpretation panels and children's activities.

During the last century a number of spectacular dinosaurs were found in Africa, including Suchomimus, a meat-eating theropod found in Niger, Western Africa in 1997; Afrovenator, found in 1993 (also in Niger); Spinosaurus, found in the Egyptian desert; and a number of brachiosaurs.

Over the last few years a number of bones from a large theropod have been found on the Isle of Wight, including a vertebra with a long spine. This spine indicates that the animal is a baryonichid, a member of the group of dinosaurs called spinosaurs. Current research suggests that this very large Isle of Wight meat-eater may be closely related to the north African dinosaur Suchomimus. One of the long-necked plant eating sauropods on the Isle of Wight is a brachiosaurid and therefore closely related to the north African brachiosaurs.

To find out more about these dinosaurs, and why animals from so far away could be closely related, please contact -

 Steve Hutt, Dinosaur Isle, on (01983) 404344   stephen.hutt@iow.gov.uk

2005 - Summer Exhibition - 100 Years of tyranny
- the story of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Tyrannosaurus rex, one of the best-known and easily recognized dinosaurs was featured in an exhibition at Dinosaur Isle Museum, Sandown, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the naming of the species in 1905.

Since 1902 various finds of enormous fossil bones in the western badlands of North America had indicated that a vast, previously unknown type of dinosaur had lived in the late Cretaceous period (70 million years ago).  In 1905 Tyrannosaurus rex was invented as a name for these bones: "King of the tyrant lizards".

 Juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex model
After the initial bones of T. rex were found there have been more discoveries made, perhaps the most notorious of which being the discovery of a T. rex known as Sue.  Sue was found by a lady called Sue in 1990, and excavated by a commercial fossil collecting business who bought the rights from the local landowner.  Unfortunately for them, the Federal Government decided it belonged to the residents of a native Indian reservation and locked it away, until proceedings were brought to court.  The fossil was eventually returned to the landowner, who promptly sold it for $8.6 million.

This and other stories about T. rex were illustrated in the display at Dinosaur Isle, along with full scale models, paintings and fossils.  Also included was the recently discovered Isle of Wight dinosaur, Eotyrannus lengi, an ancient cousin of T. rex

Real teeth from Tyrannosaurus, Spinosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus and Albertosaurus were also on display.  The model dinosaurs made for this exhibition were constructed in our workshop at Dinosaur Isle.  See the Laboratory page for the construction story. 

The model in the photograph is of a young Tyrannosaurus rex made by Steve Hutt in the lab at Dinosaur Isle.

For further information contact Steve Hutt, Dinosaur Isle, on (01983) 404344

2005 - Pre-history week - 24th to 30th October.

During the October school half-term we laid on a number of activities and displays to celebrate the diversity of the pre-historic heritage here on the Isle of Wight. We started the week in poor weather with a number of field trips led by local palaeontologists and archaeologists from the Council Museum Service and its Archaeological Unit. We finished the week off with a day of activities at Newport Roman Villa on the Saturday and a day of activities on the Sunday at Dinosaur Isle. With brilliant weather on the Sunday we were able to get outside and make a replica of a wooden sea-henge on the beach, and produce some cave-paintings (with water-soluble paint). Inside Dinosaur Isle were stands by the Isle of Wight Council Archaeology Unit, Newport Roman Villa, the schools Museum Education Service, metal detectorists and others.

Sea-henge on Yaverland Beach

It proved to be a very busy day, particularly on the beach where many of the public were roped in to help build the sea-henge (led by Delian Backhouse-Fry of the Young Archaeologists' Club) and take part in the painting (led by Lorna Steel of Dinosaur Isle).

2005 - Santa at Dinosaur Isle,
and the Chairman's Coffee Morning - 26th November.

Santa visited us at the end of November and stayed on throughout December. He spoke to many children in his grotto while he was here. Because his reindeer were away on holiday, getting ready for the busiest night of the year, Santa arrived on a sledge drawn by Huskies. To greet him on his first day was Councillor John Effemey (Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council) who was here at his Coffee Morning to raise money for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.

Santa arriving at Dinosaur Isle

Santa saying hi to the Council chairman

2004 - Wild on Wight - 30th & 31st October.

A weekend event at Dinosaur Isle held in association with the BBC television series "British Isles: A Natural History". The event was held in partnership with a number of Island natural history and archaeological organizations.

Click here for more information on Wild on Wight


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Dinosaur Isle,
Culver Parade,
Isle of Wight
PO36 8QA

Tel: +44 (0)1983 404344
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